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Social Media Is Killing Discourse Because It's Too Much Like TV (technologyreview.com) 220

Reader Joe_NoOne writes: Like TV, social media now increasingly entertains us, and even more so than television it amplifies our existing beliefs and habits. It makes us feel more than think, and it comforts more than challenges. The result is a deeply fragmented society, driven by emotions, and radicalized by lack of contact and challenge from outside. This is why Oxford Dictionaries designated "post-truth" as the word of 2016: an adjective "relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals." Traditional television still entails some degree of surprise. What you see on television news is still picked by human curators, and even though it must be entertaining to qualify as worthy of expensive production, it is still likely to challenge some of our opinions (emotions, that is). Social media, in contrast, uses algorithms to encourage comfort and complaisance, since its entire business model is built upon maximizing the time users spend inside of it. Who would like to hang around in a place where everyone seems to be negative, mean, and disapproving? The outcome is a proliferation of emotions, a radicalization of those emotions, and a fragmented society. This is way more dangerous for the idea of democracy founded on the notion of informed participation. Now what can be done? Certainly the explanation for Trump's rise cannot be reduced to a technology- or media-centered argument. The phenomenon is rooted in more than that; media or technology cannot create; they can merely twist, divert, or disrupt. Without the growing inequality, shrinking middle class, jobs threatened by globalization, etc. there would be no Trump or Berlusconi or Brexit. But we need to stop thinking that any evolution of technology is natural and inevitable and therefore good. For one thing, we need more text than videos in order to remain rational animals. Typography, as Postman describes, is in essence much more capable of communicating complex messages that provoke thinking. This means we should write and read more, link more often, and watch less television and fewer videos -- and spend less time on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
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Social Media Is Killing Discourse Because It's Too Much Like TV

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Come visit us on Slashdot, the antisocial media.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, there are fewer blocking tools and posts are (were?) almost never removed, so this is more social than most other places where you can simply block anyone who you dislike for any reason or download blocklists to protect yourself from the unpopular.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @12:51PM (#53393595)

    So... a human society

    If some dumbell starts talking racist bullshit on the street I walk away, if some dumbell posts about it in their Twitter feed I unsubscribe from them

    If anything I talk MORE now than ever about social issues with a wider variety of people than my own small group of friends / coworkers

    • by narcc ( 412956 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @01:28PM (#53393979) Journal

      Of course, you're only talking to people that already agree with you. People who disagree with you are walking away, unsubscribing, etc. just like you've been doing to them.

      When you share your message with millions, you start to think that you're really making a difference; like you're really doing a lot to spread your ideas. Of course, you're only sharing your message with people who have already heard it, and already agree.

      That racist idiot shouting nonsense on street to passers by is, possibly, reaching more people from his street corner than than the average social media user can from inside their echo chamber.

      • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @02:23PM (#53394529) Journal

        We are all tribal, even when we hate tribalism. We've just convinced ourselves that we aren't tribal, even while we are still practicing tribalism.

        Instead of tribes being built around clans of families, we now use our Echo Chambers as our clan identity. We use our "sports teams" as tribal identity. We use our employment, our politics, our social interests and isolate ourselves away from anyone too "different" from us. We are all tribal.

        • by Altrag ( 195300 )

          I don't think anyone hates tribalism. They might dislike the word itself as it makes us think of uncivilized people fighting each other on the plains of Africa 3000 years ago or whatever, but very few people hate "tribalism" as the concept of a group of people with shared identity working toward a common goal.

          As you say, we still do this constantly. Its more an issue that we're using the same word for two essentially different meanings, and that can confuse people. Especially since the latter usage (the

          • I don't think anyone hates tribalism. They might dislike the word itself as it makes us think of uncivilized people fighting each other on the plains of Africa 3000 years ago or whatever, but very few people hate "tribalism" as the concept of a group of people with shared identity working toward a common goal.

            you missed the vital point as to why people DO hate tribalism.

            "a group of people with shared identity working toward a common goal... against (at the expense of) another tribe"
            without the existence of the external party it is not tribalism.

            Because all these identities require that your success comes at the expense of another's success, many people (including myself) lament the tribalism tendency of humanity. It is the main reason why people can do so many horrible things to others because the other is not

      • What's your point? Everyone is free to subscribe to what he wishes to. You assume he only subscribes or is being subscribed to by people in perfect agreement with all what he is thinking. I don't see on what basis you can assume this. His point is not he believes he is reaching thousands or millions, he is just reaching more people than the traditional way and he is being reached by more people than the traditional way. He is not in competition with that racist idiot shouting on the street to reach more peo
        • by Altrag ( 195300 )

          Everyone is free to subscribe to what he wishes to

          That's kind of the problem. With traditional media, even TV, you "subscribed" to whatever the editor or broadcaster decided you should hear about. You could "unsubscribe" in broad strokes by avoiding entire newspapers that tended to lean a little the opposite direction from you, but you could never fully avoid hearing about things you didn't want to hear about.

          With the algorithmic news feeds, that's simply not as true. Where an editor may question an article and ask the journalist to strengthen their sou

        • You assume he only subscribes or is being subscribed to by people in perfect agreement with all what he is thinking. I don't see on what basis you can assume this.

          White supremacists subscribe to white supremacist websites. Islamicists subscribe to islamicist websites. Cheese eating surrender monkeys who haven't heard of a filter bubble [wikipedia.org] subscribe to slashdot and post ill-informed crap.

    • This is the part I don't get.

      I don't actively seek to hang out around assholes. (What ever your definition may be).

      I don't show up at KKK rallies OR Feminist Open Mic Night. I already have enough on my plate between family, a job running and a household that I barely have enough time to see people I want to see.

      So why would I venture in and try and change anything online? I'll occasionally lurk and browse to keep tabs on what everyone is up to but I don't show up on Stormfront pushing for Equality or show u

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        (What ever your definition may be)

        This caveat makes all the difference. Most peoples' definition of "asshole" is "someone I don't like." If you're a hardcore racist, you probably think the guy constantly telling you to open your mind is an asshole while to that guy (and ok, most everyone else..) you're the asshole.

    • by Falos ( 2905315 )
      They won't let it hit your feed.

      At least the shouter makes your brain say "That's dumb." and maybe, just maybe, apply a brief moment of critical fucking thinking as your recall why - exactly why, objectively why, deductively why, using logic and reason and established data that leads to a conclusion- it's dumb. Even if it's only "Torture is bad, making humans suffer is wrong." you cement your morals.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's not because it's like TV; it's because people are idiots. Social media gives them an outlet they otherwise would not have.

    • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @01:25PM (#53393935) Homepage

      I see it as a double-edged sword - like pretty much any form of human communication. The upside is that you can communicate with people across vast distances instead of just the people who live near you. This can expose you to different points of view. Perhaps I'm for something since I live in Upstate New York but haven't considered the repercussions to someone living in Montana. In ages past, I would have never spoken with that person and never even considered their opinion. Now, I might see their view and reconsider my support.

      The downside is that you can wind up surrounding yourself with people who agree with you. This happened on both sides of the aisle during the last election. If someone expressed support for Trump, some Hillary supporters would unfriend them. If someone supported Hillary, Trump supporters would cut them off from their stream. The end result is that you just see people supporting your candidates and causes. This leads to dismissing the other side out of hand and even exaggerating their position to an extreme. (For example, "expand background checks on guns" becomes "THEY WANT TO TAKE ALL OUR GUNS AWAY!!!!")

      It should be noted that this isn't unique to social media - my father isn't on social media and surrounds himself with "news" from Fox, Hannity, Limbaugh, etc. He doesn't listen to CNN, MSNBC, etc at all - even in an effort to see how different stations spin the same news. He's in a bubble and refuses to listen to anything that originates outside of his bubble.

      The other downside is that people tend to be more brash online than face-to-face. If you called someone an idiot and a traitor to their face simply for having a different political opinion, you'd risk a punch to the face. Online, though, the worst you'll get is named-called right back and blocked. What's worse is that it seems like this brazenness is leaking out into everyday society (at least for some people).

      In the end, I don't think there's an easy fix. There's no way to keep the good aspects of social media (and the Internet in general) while forcing people to be civil and to not stay in bubbles. You can ask people to behave in certain manners and perhaps even encourage it in some ways, but no system will be perfect. They will all suffer from the flaws inherent in the fact that the users are human.

      • Not all of us are idiots...

        I voted Trump and yet watched CNN election night. I follow the DNC on Twitter.

        If I live in an echo chamber, I'm going to wake up surprised one day.

        • Find TYT coverage of election night. It's comedy gold.

        • I wouldn't presume to say that all Trump supporters were in an echo chamber, but there was certainly a group that were. Then again, I'm sure there's a solid group on the left that sticks to their own news sources and see any spin or overblowing of a story as 100% fact. It can be easy to pick news sources that reinforce what you believe to be true and end up in an echo chamber. Staying out of the echo chamber can be difficult at times, but it's worthwhile if we're going to have a functioning country where bo

          • I find Bernie Sanders interesting to listen to, and I disagree with many of his points, but not all of them...

            I also do disagree with some of what Trump says...

            We have gone WAY too far in rooting for our own team and anything the other side says is "evil". That's silly...

            If we are going to require health insurance to cover everyone, we probably should have single-payer... We also probably do need a min wage increase, perhaps to $10/hr to start with...

            That being said, Corporate Tax really does need to come

  • Is social media also killing Stack Overflow, which is what Jeff Atwood did before Discourse [wikipedia.org]? Because I'd hate to have to go back to ExpertS-exChange.

    • Because I'd hate to have to go back to ExpertS-exChange.

      It was bad. But, you can still get pens from penis land but sadly no longer batteries from power genitalia.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Clearly there can only be one possible explanation.

    It is all the fault of those pansies, the liberals, who unlike rational, logical, rugged, and manly, conservatives always let their emotions out. Some of them are known to cry, even when watching ASPCA commercials with that known communist, Sarah Maclachlan, singing one of her caterwauling songs. A real man would never show such a reaction, but would go out and hunt like the founding fathers did.

    So in conclusion, love America, and Spock was right.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      It is all the fault of those pansies, the liberals, who unlike rational, logical, rugged, and manly, conservatives always let their emotions out.

      Thin skin isn't just a symptom of the left. There's plenty on the right too. The real problem is that there's an entire generation of snowflakes out there that whine and cry over things like Halloween costumes and them being "racist or sexist." Or get so upset that they need to run off to rooms with colouring books and pictures of puppies because someone dared to disagree with them. The worst cases are the ones that defend restricting speech because it hurts their feelings, or claim that disagreement is

  • Post-truth (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wjcofkc ( 964165 )
    This is excellent word for summing up the social justice warrior movement.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Post-truth refers to people like Trump and the Brexit Leave campaign. People who don't even pretend to tell the truth any more, and dismiss all facts and expert opinion as biased and unreliable. To them, feelings are all that matter.

      So are you wrong about the meaning of post-truth or are you saying that Trump is an SJW?

      • Re:Post-truth (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @02:16PM (#53394437)

        SJW's scream racism and misogyny so quickly and so easily that they have enabled actual racists and actual misogynists. They shouted down anyone who either used a mildly crude expression, passed on a bad bill that somehow was tied to an SJW interest, failed to renounce some other figure who they deemed badpolitic. They rage against everything from blatant rape to some very shady/everyone-was-guilty date rape cases, to the point where heterosexual men became afraid that there but for the grace of God, they have not yet ended up in prison for women they had sex with. Even mildly insinuating that you have moral or religious issues with homosexuality gets you branded a homophobe and recidivist.

        Meanwhile the mainstream person, who may not share their particular zealotry but has what the majority may consider a reasonable view on these topics, become increasingly distrustful of anyone yelling these words out. Now, the Orange Enemy, himself labelled as a misogynist for things I personally think were mostly gross exercises of poor judgement and bad character, but not necessarily misogyny, is appointing people, and those words are being yelled, and we're really not sure if they are truth or just more shrill voices from the lunatic fringe.

        That's another example of post-truth, devaluing statements to the point where truth doesn't have meaning.

        • Even mildly insinuating that you have moral or religious issues with homosexuality gets you branded a homophobe and recidivist.

          Not sure what word you were looking for there, but you didn't find it.

          • No, I found it.

            recidivist
            n 1: someone who is repeatedly arrested for criminal behavior
            (especially for the same criminal behavior)
            2: someone who lapses into previous undesirable patterns of
            behavior

            This is particularly true of SJW's, who have assumed the answer, mistakenly thought the world chang

    • This is excellent word for summing up the social justice warrior movement.

      It's more virulent behavior than just SJWs, who tend to be unwitting victims to it more than anything. "Post-truth" sums up what we've become after abandoning classical education and logic.

  • by Nunya666 ( 4446709 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @01:08PM (#53393747)
    That summary reads like an article. Since I rarely RTFA, why would I want to read the summary?
    • That summary reads like an article. Since I rarely RTFA, why would I want to read the summary?

      I read the summary and think I still need someone to summarize it for me.

    • Yet another article bemoaning traditional media's loss of control of "the message".

      Forget the nightly newscasts, or even news commentaries like "60 Minutes"; even those old sitcoms like "All in the Family" were force feeding you the message.

    • by Lorens ( 597774 )

      That summary reads like an article. Since I rarely RTFA, why would I want to read the summary?

      That's irony/sarcasm, right? Because reading, critical thinking, and emitting reasoned discourse is what all this is about.

      One of the main problems is the Web 2.0 system. Either you have a feed and get every short comment as it comes -- but that's if you want to context switch for every single one-line comment. Otherwise, you read a web page, and once you're done you're not going back, even if an interesting comment comes in a few seconds later. If you come later to the party, you get to read all the good c

  • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @01:08PM (#53393749) Journal
    Hilter won in the German Federal elections is 1932, long before "Social Media." Whenever you have large and long-standing Economic Disruption in a society, Social Strife and Political Upheaval seem nearly inevitable
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      There is another key ingredient you are missing. There has to be unjustified blame. In the 1930s it was on Jews and other minorities, today it's on immigrants and other minorities. The group has to be easily identifiable, which is why the Nazis made Jews wear an identifying mark, where as today people rely mostly on skin colour and accent.

    • He was appointed to Chancellor a year later, and became head of state when Hindenburg died.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • by chispito ( 1870390 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @01:08PM (#53393761)
    I almost wish Hillary had won if it meant less of this inane soul-searching about social media. Could you make all the same arguments if she had been elected?

    Sure. But the clearly liberal-leaning hucksters pushing these stories would hopefully be doing something else. Or maybe they would be pushing stories about the profound good that social media had on the outcome of the election.

    Okay, I take it back. That would be worse.
    • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @01:31PM (#53394019)
      In 2008 the media praised Obama for his campaigns social media genius.

      In 2016 the media declares social media is the devil.
      • Granted, I'm a slashdotter and I didn't RTFA, but TFS was enough to tell me that this is just another way for liberal crybabies and poor sports to blame somebody other than their candidate.
      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        Not super surprising: In 2008, this was a new concept and everyone was shocked and amazed at how well it worked.

        In 2016, we have a better handle on the hows and whys and we've realized that its a lot more insidious and easy to abuse than we would have thought possible back in 2008.

    • Yes, because there would have been soul-searching about how someone who was not any kind of recognizable conservative temporarily seized the helm of the Republican Party and got the party spanked. The discussion would have been different, but it would have happened regardless.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The entire establishment, which includes the media as its key henchmen, are furious with the outcome of this election. The number one goal at this point is to do what they have always been doing: shape public opinion and thought processes. The specific thing they are trying to do is make "official TV new media" the only place people view as reliable sources of information. They can't do that by getting up and stating it - they have to discredit their competitors.

      Every news/discussion source that is not CN

  • in the 70's and 80's when your national and world news was a half hour program twice a day we got the sound bite. the network would film a speech or an interview and use 30 seconds or less to make a point in their newscast.

    CNN gave more time to the speeches but in their quest to keep on talking they added the commentary. since there isn't enough news every day most of the news on the news channels is now commentary. even the reporting has a lot of commentary on it and the journalists have always been guilty

  • by Geste ( 527302 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @01:10PM (#53393793)
    It would seem like a lot of what you posted should have been quoted so that it would be clear that it was drawn directly from the linked article. Many good points in that piece, but from him, not you, unless you are him. Perhaps you are him. Perhaps the editor already checked that.
  • TV BS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by brunnegd ( 1707568 )
    TV shows no longer reflect real life. Every show has to be what libs perceive as PC, a certain number of gays, diverse ethnic backgrounds, even transgenders are showing up. Audiences do not like having this distorted version of reality shoved down their throats.
    • TV shows no longer reflect real life. Every show has to be what libs perceive as PC, a certain number of gays, diverse ethnic backgrounds, even transgenders are showing up. Audiences do not like having this distorted version of reality shoved down their throats.

      But how would I understand the gay condition without a TV show to explain it to me? I don't have any openly gay people in my life to explain it to me in the real world. Of course this could be the issue that they don't feel comfortable in an overly christian area with being openly gay, but this isn't the kind of reality reflected in TV shows.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I hate to break it to you, but in reality (you know, as opposed to the microcephalic mentality you mistake for "real life") there are far more gay people, people of different ethnic backgrounds, and transgendered people, than are shown even now on TV.

      ...Actually, I lie. I don't hate to break it to you at all. Rubbing bigots' noses in their blindness and their bullshit is hilarious. Sweet, sweet schadenfreude...
      • No, there really aren't... You think there are you shout about it, but no, there aren't very many gay people.

      • Re:TV BS (Score:4, Informative)

        by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @03:38PM (#53395363)

        No, there really isn't. It's hard to get good statistics for the number of gay/trans people in the US, but of the ethnicities, only Hispanics are underrepresented. Statistics on Hollywood characters can be found here [pbs.org], and statistics on the demographics of the US can be found here [wikipedia.org] (though the comparison is a bit confused, as hispanic != not-white, so I don't know what the PBS numbers consider as hispanic vs white).

    • Yeah, the headline should be, "The End of TV," because there isn't a lot of discourse going on the TV. News programs are carefully choreographed reality shows. On Facebook, the articles may be fake sometimes, but at least people are talking to each other.

      I am glad that TV and the media lose their power to control the narrative. After what they did to Bernie, it should be obvious to everyone that the media abuses their power.
    • TV shows no longer reflect real life. Every show has to be what libs perceive as PC, a certain number of gays, diverse ethnic backgrounds, even transgenders are showing up. Audiences do not like having this distorted version of reality shoved down their throats.

      Right, they should all stay in the closet and hide who they are, so they don't scare and revolt true Americans such as yourself.

    • Audiences do not like having this distorted version of reality shoved down their throats.

      An audience can leave or complain. A television cannot compel viewership.

      Those who choose to watch obviously value watching and reacting---more than anything else they could be doing at the time.

      So the idea of "shoved down their throats" really only applies to the meanest, loneliest malcontents who watch things they find repulsive in order to perpetuate their bitterness and anger.

    • TV shows no longer reflect real life. Every show has to be what libs perceive as PC, a certain number of gays, diverse ethnic backgrounds, even transgenders are showing up. Audiences do not like having this distorted version of reality shoved down their throats.

      You're implying that there was a time when TV shows did reflect real life. There wasn't.

      Go watch some 50's sitcoms with the little wife putting on pearls and a nice dress to do housework. That wasn't reality, it was a wishful projection that reflected the political correctness of the time. Anyone who thinks "libs" are the only ones pushing political correctness doesn't understand what the term means.

  • This (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @01:15PM (#53393837)
    It makes us feel more than think

    .
    While not too bad for social things, it brings out the worst when exploited for political reasons, keeping a whole group of people of the verge of "outrage" nearly continuously.

  • Move on, nothing to see here
  • "Who would like to hang around in a place where everyone seems to be negative, mean, and disapproving?" This seems to be the epitome of Facebook.
  • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @01:19PM (#53393877)

    People are increasingly just getting their news from overtly politicized outlets.

    Fox News, Huffington Post, Breitbart, Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh radio network, Buzzfeed, Jezebel... (and more)

    These are all sites with a political agenda and deliberately biased. If you're getting your news from them, you're getting filtered news that has been written to support one of two polar political stances. People need to diversify their sources (and/or) not get news solely from sources that are deliberately biased. It used to be political bias in a news article was frowned upon, nowadays it's a requirement for many news outlets.

    I still trust the BBC world service the most, although lately I've noticed some "editorial" content sneaking into their news headlines.

    • Heck, even less blatantly biased news sources are still pretty biased. I had a hard time finding a non Fox news type site not propping up Clinton through the campaign. I would have loved a news source that talked about both good and bad of both candidates. Maybe the problem is nothing good with Trump that Fox isn't coming up with but I have a hard time believing that.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I also think the established media seemed to prop up Clinton throughout the campaign.

        I think it's mostly because she was kind of the perfect candidate for them. The aura of the Bill Clinton presidency, she's a woman, and she's kind of the archetype of the competent, well-educated technocrat that liberal, college educated journalists believe makes government effective.

        She's literally the projection of their ideal candidate, how can they not fall for her?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I saw very few in popular media who "fell for Hillary." By her own admission and even some of her major endorsements she was "less bad." What a ringing endorsement. Her "flawed" candidacy was a reoccurring story line since before the primary season even heated up... Such infatuation .... Major outlets discussed her emails including leaks (her obvious weakness) over her policy positions (her obvious strength) at a ratio of over 40 to 1... I can't believe all the love for Hillary... How you get there from her

    • Some to a greater or lesser degree, certainly, and different voices can have different degrees (or types) of opinion/slant, but it's there nonetheless. It's also accompanied in many cases by a strong push to distrust the "mainstream media", which usually means "everyone that isn't us." To be sure there's more of that on the right than the left, but it does exist on the left nonetheless, and for both sides it generally amounts to "the rest of the media isn't covering things we want, the way we want."

      And th
    • by Britz ( 170620 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @02:42PM (#53394683)

      One problem is the internet itself. Newspapers used to be a complete product that was consumed entirely. Now we can click single articles. This produces two problems. One is that we click our own filterbubble and the other is the promotion of entertaining and easy reading articles. When I last used the BBC Android app in 2014, there were many article about political issues. When I tried it in 2016, it was all blood, crime, cute animals and other entertaining, but irrelevant stuff. The stuff people click on. So it gets promoted. And the people that write them get promoted. This seems to have a profound effect, even on the BBC.

      The Fox News propaganda machine and garbage papers like The Sun in the UK misinformed readers with their intentional bias long before the internet.

      Added explanation: There is news that is entertaining but irrelevant to us, because it doesn't effect us. Like crimes or celebrity news or other 'interesting facts'. Then there are political issues that effect us, like laws and deliberation of laws. Those are also news. A newspaper has a mix of both. The internet seems to promote the former in all media.

  • by H3lldr0p ( 40304 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @01:20PM (#53393881) Homepage

    Social media, and thanks for giving us a working definition so we know where you're coming from, is an extension of traditional media. The same problem exists there.

    If there was a way to make money off of honest discourse of political and social issues, someone would have already done so. The unhappy truth is that it is very hard to do so. So TFA's ranting against algorithms and such is ranting against television programming and development. It's just not easy to get eyeballs on honest issues because most of us don't like it. We don't like being made to feel bad about something we had little to nothing to do with. We don't like being confronted by a reality that we didn't make but are forced to take part of all the same. We don't like being told to eat our vegetables, essentially.

    Given how it has been put together over the past two and a half centuries, American democracy isn't simply advanced citizenship. It's advanced everything. The requirements for participation has got to the point where you have to be on 100% of the time to even have a slight chance at understanding what's going on. There's no simplifying that in a twenty two minute nightly news report.

    And that's the real problem. We need people to be participating now more than ever. But we don't want to create the sort of nation it would take for that to happen. It's hard. We've solved a lot of problems over the years. Hunger and disease are starting to look like we can actually do it. This? Organizing ourselves? This has always been at the bottom of the list of things to get done. Which is probably part of the reason we see the people that get into it, get into it. It's the last thing most people want to think about at the end of their long work day. Guess what? That doesn't make it any easier to resolve.

    • If there was a way to make money off of honest discourse of political and social issues, someone would have already done so. The unhappy truth is that it is very hard to do so.

      We all love CSPAN!

    • Social media just seems new because for the first time, we have a raw, unadulterated, and referenceable window into the inner workings of the mob that is society.

      In the past, if a mob decided to go out and lynch a black man, it was extremely difficult to piece together after the fact exactly how the situation transitioned from a curious crowd gathering to see a dead body, to a furious mob which was somehow convinced that this particular black man was the murderer who needed killing. Now we can analyze i
  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @01:34PM (#53394045)

    Equating social media with TV is insane.

    I can yell at the TV but does it ever listen? No.

    I yell on social media a lot and I get yelled at.

    However, I do all that shit with fake accounts.

    I have a Facebook account using my real name and I'm polite as fuck so I don't piss off family or Friends. I post original photos, music, and I inform about the latest hack and how to prevent it.

    I provide tech support and historical insight.

    I do NOT speak my mind because I would have no audience. I do block insipid assholes who shit on my lawn. I don't allow religion, politics, or racism or gay-bashing.

    Facebook is for cat videos.

    I have many other Facebook accounts. I have a few Twitter accounts and one Instagram.

    On Twitter, especially, I join the shit storm with fact-based logical arguments and I swing a dead cat.

    For those social media people who behave as described in this article, (they don't block ads and crap) they have every right.

    I advise acquaintances to go dark and yell.

  • So we should all stop watching funny cat videos?
    • Yes, you must stop immediately! Each time you watch a cat or port video some friary dies! Or is that a kitten? Don't remember, but I heard it on social media so it must be true,
  • by Sir_Eptishous ( 873977 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @02:00PM (#53394283) Homepage
    I remember when I first saw how people behaved on MySpace. Then when FB started to get big, and in the intervening years with Twitter, I really was able to "Grok", or intuitively understand how this platform would affect people. I saw it with friends and family. I saw it with the recent election.

    I am continually vindicated in my choice to have never joined one of those "social networks", with the exception of LinkedIn, which I rarely log into or look at.

    Some of the problems I have noticed with social networks, and primarily FB:
    1. A "keeping up with Jones" type of fakery, where people are always trying to make themselves seem "larger than life"
    2. A constant barrage of crap, whether cat videos, political rants or very unimportant status updates about how great a cup of coffee someone just drank was.
    3. Very little of any interesting, intelligent or thoughtful discourse(See Number 2.)
    4. A huge waste of time, in addition to all the other things in the modern digital world we have to deal with and respond to.
    5. Fake News(and yes, this isn't some new "revelation" after Trump got elected. It's been going on for a while...)
    6. Echo chamber and group thinking.

    For all the acrimony and debatism that /. has, it is an infinitely more interesting place than FB.
  • Hasn't this phenomenon been around at least as long as AOL has been? Maybe even longer, maybe even as far back as the pre-Internet dialup BBS days? Aren't all the above 'walled gardens' to one extent or another? Granted, in the beginning Facebook wasn't really that much of a 'walled garden', but it's certainly been moving steadily in that direction, and now all it needs is to offer Facebook-only Internet access, and it's a full-on Walled Garden. But even without that, isn't it more-or-less a Walled Garden n
    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      I'm pretty sure this phenomenon has been around as long as people have known how to communicate with each other.

      The difference now is that there's just so much of it that you can completely saturate your information desires without ever having to leave your chair never mind breaking out of your bubble. Previously you would have eventually hit a wall (or a fist) when you ran out of people that agreed with you, long before you had overloaded yourself.

  • "Social Media Is Killing Discourse Because It's Too Much Like TV" ?

    Don't think so. Faceboook, Twitter and Google murdered discourse by silencing opinion that disagreed with their agenda, which was to get Hillary elected as POTUS.
    http://harvardlawreview.org/20... [harvardlawreview.org]

    "Censorship
    How "terms of service" abridge free speech ...
    Professor Ammori tells us that Facebook lawyers have created “a set of rules that hundreds of employees can apply consistently without having to make judgment calls.”9 The details

    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      How "terms of service" abridge free speech

      Free speech is a right granted to you (or in US constitutional negative-speak, a right the government isn't allowed to revoke.)

      Of particular interest is that private entities, no matter how large, are NOT bound by any free speech restrictions. Its their site and if they want to turn it into a liberal echo chamber that's their prerogative. Those companies are only "representing the public commons" in your head. The only thing they represent in reality is their bottom line and _maybe_ the opinions of their

  • by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @02:51PM (#53394777) Journal

    oh ffs...everyone with the "social media" hot takes...

    first, *idiots* are killing discourse...not any kind of communications technology. Idiots. I blame the decades-long Republican project of defunding public schools to enable privatization.

    2nd, idiots will use *all communication channels available* to communicate their idiot ideas

    3rd, 'social media' is text and pictures...stored and communicated between users on a computer system. That's all it fucking is.

    facebook isn't innocent by any means. They use an obtuse term "engagement" to measure usage of their system, and it is sentiment agnostic...meaning if the system shows you a dumb post about Trump for your weird uncle and you comment on it 3x, that gets meansured as "engagement"...even though you absolutely hate the article posted and were only commenting to tell others that it was from a fake news site. Repeat that over and over and it's easy to see how bullshit articles would rate high in facebook's system.

    They do many shady things (remember the 2012 election and the phantom Mitt Romney likes on facebook???)

    but blaming "social media" is steering this whole conversation wrong...it's not "social media" it's specific to a system and there are humans who choose how that system works

  • Social media merely reflects the society which we have built. Since at least the 1960s our schools have taught (to an ever increasing degree) that all cultures are equal, that we should not consider one social norm as better than another. Western society which developed the idea that every person is equal, even women and people of different races, is no better than a culture which teaches that a man should beat his wife if he doesn't like the food she cooks for him.

    It is more complicated than that, but t
  • Democracy is better with fewer people people involved.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson

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